The Lockheed Electra
With its signature “twin tail”, and exceptionally clean and nearly art-deco appearance, the Lockheed Model 10 Electra series emerged as a purpose-built design intended to respond to the Douglas DC-2 and Boeing 247airliners that were, by the mid-1930s, revolutionizing commercial airline services in the United States. Currently registered as N72GT but wearing historical markings NR-16020 as well – the marks worn on Amelia Earhart’s Electra - the Model 10-E that the Museum is endeavoring to acquire was the 15th of a total of 149 Model 10’s of all variants that were built. Originally acquired brand new by Northwest Airlines in 1935 and marked NC-14900 as a Model 10-A, this Electra possesses an extraordinary historical pedigree. She was flown extensively by Northwest well into the World War Two years but, in August 1942, was acquired by the U.S. Army Air Forces and donned olive drab camouflage and became a UC-36A, USAAF serial number 42-57213. Later in the war, as more transports became available to the Army, the aircraft was returned to Northwest in May 1944, again as NC-14900. After the end of the war, Northwest sold her to the Brazilian national flag airline, VARIG, where the aircraft became PP-VAR, and it next spent a short period with the Brazilian Air Force as FAB-1002. She was then sold back into the United States and passed through a number of owners, and was returned to the factory and converted under the appropriate Approved Type Certificate to Model 10-E configuration. In 1994, aviatrix Linda Finch happened upon this aircraft and, with after a phenomenal restoration project, aided greatly by Pratt & Whitney, builder of the original engines, set out on an around-the-world flight in March 1997, the 60th anniversary of Amelia Earharts attempt, replicating, insofar as possible, Earhart’s original flight plan. Although she did not stop at Howland Island, due to the deterioration of the landing strip there, she did drop a wreath near the island to remember the ill-fated crew and her sister aviator. Now configured and marked precisely like Amelia Earhart’s classic aircraft, this Electra will serve as a tangible and exceptionally appropriate reminder of a vibrant and memorable pioneer, and inspiration to generations of young women who will follow in her footsteps.
The aircraft will be positioned, appropriately, in a position of honor in the T. Wilson Great Gallery.
The Lockheed Model 10 Electra series was the first aircraft project that young aeronautical engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was assigned to when he joined the firm in 1933. The line of aircraft that issued forth under his guidance in the years that followed reads like a chapter from the “Greatest Aircraft of All Time,” many of which are represented in the collections of The Museum of Flight. These include the Lockheed P-38 “Lightning,” the 1049G “Super G Constellation,” a P-80 Shooting Star (awaiting restoration as a Navy configured TV-1), his own personal Lockheed “Jetstar,” the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter,” the M-21/D-21 “Blackbird” and, most recently, the exotic YO-3A. His contributions to the evolution of both U.S. and international aviation are so significant that the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustee’s voted to include specific collections activities documenting his achievements into the Museum’s Collections Management Plan.
The acquisition of a Model 10 Electra, his first project, would be a fitting tribute to one of the giants of the first 100 years of manned flight.